Great Barrier Reef at risk The Great Barrier Reef and other marine protected areas will continue to be at risk from oil spills after the federal government today rejected a move by the Australian Greens to accelerate maritime safety measures.
Greens Senator for Tasmania, Christine Milne, moved in the Senate for the government to bring forward the date by which single-hulled tankers will be banned from Australian waters from 2010 to December 2005.
The current phase-out date for category 2 and 3 single-hulled tankers is 2010 but the Australian Greens wanted to bring this forward to December 2005. Double-hulled tankers will significantly reduce the likelihood of an oil spill damaging the reef.
Senator Milne said the government's refusal to back a tighter timeframe for more stringent protection of the reef and other marine protected areas, on the basis of economic cost, was disappointing.
"The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's most significant reef systems, and its importance has been recognised by listing on the World Heritage register," Senator Milne said.
"Not only is the Great Barrier Reef of global ecological significance, a recent report put its economic value to the Australian economy at $5.8 billion last financial year.
"Whilst an accelerated phase-out of single-hulled vessels may incur some restructuring, the cost would be nothing compared to the cost, both financial and ecological, of a major oil spill on the Great Barrier Reef."
Senator Milne's proposal was contained in a second reading amendment to the Protection of the Sea (Shipping Levy) Amendment Bill 2005.
Contact: Katrina Willis 02 6277 3063 or 0437 587 562